16 June 2016

Governance as leadership: What organizations want from board members

For the past several years, I have had the opportunity to be a faculty member of the Board Leadership Institute (BLI), sponsored by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. During my presentation at the institute, I share principles I’ve learned over time from my experience on boards and with organizations. Successful leadership of an organization depends on board members being knowledgeable about their core values and potential contributions to the organization. Mastery of fundamental knowledge and characteristics expected of a board is central, therefore, to effective board membership.

Below are some of the concepts and principles I share and discuss at the Board Leadership Institute together with resources and references you can use to develop your own knowledge base about what organizations want from board members. During the course of my BLI presentation, I advise attendees to:
  • Be intentional about their board leadership aspirations. Understand governance as leadership.
  • Know the wisdom of contributions based on talents, strengths, and values.
  • Master skills associated with change and transformation, futures literacy, levels of perspective, polarities, and competing values.
  • Understand the power of alignment and logical levels of learning and leadership.
  • Know the basic responsibilities of board work and how to be an effective and ethical board member.
  • Be clear about the importance of expectations related to fundraising, philanthropy, fiduciary responsibility, and return on investments.
  • Commit to being a team player by developing resilience and through personal and professional renewal.
A place at the table? BLI is
an excellent place to prepare.

Basically, the 10 responsibilities of nonprofit boards are to: 1) determine the organization’s mission and purpose, 2) select the chief executive officer, 3) provide proper financial oversight, 4) ensure adequate resources, 5) ensure legal and ethical integrity, and maintain accountability, 6) ensure effective organizational planning, 7) recruit and orient new board members, and assess board performance, 8) enhance the organization’s public standing, 9) determine, monitor, and strengthen the organization’s programs and services, and 10) support the chief executive and assess his or her performance.

Richard Chait and his colleagues, William Ryan and Barbara Taylor, observe that effective boards attend to the following variables. They pay attention to the context and culture of the organization, while discerning needs of members and stakeholders. They build a sense of community and inclusiveness among members, and they value education and development among themselves and members of the organization. Effective boards cultivate future leadership and build community. They possess analytic skills that help discern relationships among the complexities of competing issues. They value differences of opinion and seek out information that helps them in their deliberations. Effective boards are politically sensitive, and they communicate and attend to needs of all stakeholders. Effective boards are strategic rather than bound up in the day-to-day operations of the organization.

If you are eager to learn more about board leadership, consider attending the Board Leadership Institute scheduled for 18-19 August in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. If you are unable to attend, check out the variety of learning resources available that provide information and guidance regarding organizational governance of for-profit and nonprofit boards. Resources I especially like are available through an organization called BoardSource. Also, read Nurse on Board: Planning Your Path to the Board Room. Authored by the late Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, the book was recently published by Sigma Theta Tau International.
Join the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International for the Board Leadership Institute! The program will be held all day on Thursday, 18 August, and end midday on Friday, 19 August. Register by 8 July to receive the Early Bird rate of US $599!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.